Our Family holiday in Davutlar, Kusadasi, Turkey.

Turkey has been given a bad name recently with all the negative press in the media due to all the current goings on in the world but I have to say every time I go I just love it.

This time we stayed in a small town called Davutlar which is near Kusadasi. This is one place I refer to as 'real turkey'. As my stepdad is Turkish, I've been holidaying in Turkey since I was 6 years old rarely going back to the exact same place twice. I have seen 'tourist turkey' and 'real turkey' and I love one just as much as the other but for very different reasons.

Travel...

We flew with EasyJet to Izmir which is approx. 45 minutes away from the small town of Davutlar. The flight to Turkey is around 3.5 to 4 hours long, so not too pressing with young children in tow. That said you will want to think about Flight Must Haves to keep your little ones entertained and occupied - and remember things for the flight home too!! I didn't! Although luckily for me the girls and I slept and as for the hubby and the boys, well there was a thunderstorm going on underneath us that they we fascinated with. The flight cost us around £1200 (£200 each) return as we bought the tickets as soon as they were released.

My stepdad organised a minibus through Katar Turizm to take us from the airport to our villa. There was 11 of us (two families) and it cost £140, including the trip back at the end of our stay. So divided by the two families it cost us £70

Therefore in my opinion travel costs to Turkey, even during the summer holiday is reasonable.

The villa...

We stayed in a standard yet beautiful 3 bed villa, with 2 bathrooms, a balcony off every bedroom, open plan living / kitchen area with 2 comfortable sofa beds, a good sized terrace for al fresco dining and 2 swimming pools; 1 kids and one adults. It had everything you needed for a self-catering holiday; cooker, fridge/freezer, washing machine, crockery, cutlery etc although to be honest we could have done with a few more drinking glasses but that's a minor issue. All of this came to £700. Electricity wasn't included. That said we didn't use much. We only had the air-con on when it was absolutely necessary as we spent most of our time at the villa my stepdad stayed in. The fridge/freezer we turned on when we got there so was on constantly, the washing machine and cooker was used but only a few times. We paid 40TL which is less than £10 for the whole 9 days we were there. Bargain!

The villa was on a secure, guarded estate that had a manned iron gate and CCTV so we felt very safe. There were several blocks of villas that were situated in squares with the pool for that block in the middle. Be sure to read the pool rules though. It saves the embarrassment of getting told off by the fun police!

Food & Drink...

 

cost

Our food shopping was approx £100 for a week. With alcohol you are looking at A LOT more as the government have placed high tax on alcohol. For example a 70cl bottle of Smirnoff Vodka cost around £25!

There was a small local shop but much like the corner shops at home it was much more expensive and you couldn't get all that you needed from there. My stepdad had hired a car so the two of us went to the larger (although still small compared to the shops at home) supermarket.

We did eat out occasionally too and our meals normally came to around £30 for my family of 6.

cuisine

I'm sure I'm not far out in saying when people think Turkish food they think Doner Kebab...right? Well there is so much more to it than that...

We were eating Sucuk and eggs for breakfast, sometimes hard boiled, sometimes fried and seasoned with salt and cumin and we had salad with almost every meal. There were the most delicious mezze's for starters as well as Kofte, chicken sausages, pizza with spicy minced meat toppings, chillies both sweet & spicy, bread, beef kebabs, lamb chops and so much more (except pork of course) for mains!

We had watermelon, cherries and grapes which we had bought fresh from the fruit an veg stall.

Delicious!

Weather...

This time of year, July, is hot and August will be hotter still. Temperatures were in the high 30's (Celsius) most of the time with evenings dropping to low 30's high 20's!

So be sure you're on top of keeping your children cool. The blog I wrote on that is primarily for the uk but the same principles apply abroad.

I put 50SPF on my children the whole time we were there and they still came home with tan lines..so its hot and the sun is strong! It really is best to stay out of direct sunlight during the hours of 11am and 3 or 4pm.

Things to do...

If you don't have transport and you are staying in 'real turkey' in a place such as Davutlar then you may find it a struggle to get around. There is a public transport service and you can get taxi's but I wouldn't be able to tell you how to go about getting them. In our villa was a card with a taxi number on it but had that not been there I wouldn't have had a clue. I guess the only option you have under these circumstances would be to ask other residents on the estate in which you are staying, but bear in mind you may have difficulty with the language barrier.

We found some leaflets laying around the villa and came across one for a waterpark and one for boat trips. We saw the waterpark on our way from the airport and it looked incredibly fun so it was a unanimous decision to go. Upon calling the numbers on the leaflets we arranged a trip by coach (we couldn't all fit in the car) to the waterpark, Adaland for the next day.

Adaland was fantastic!

It cost around 185 TL for the 11 of us to get in which is around £40. That is a price you can't argue with! There are lockers so you can keep your belongings safe and you don't even need to carry cash around for drinks. You put money on a card and use it much like debit card. Then at the end of your day, if there is still money left on it when you return the card you are given back the remaining balance in cash.

There was a huge amount of sunbeds by the childrens area, under shade and by the drinks and ice cream stand which is where we set up for the day.

Also within the water park was a dolphin park (extra cost) and a seaside park (extra cost) but we didn't go to these attractions.

I have been to a few waterparks when abroad and I have to say the kids area at this one was simply fantastic! All four of mine loved it!

There was a wave pool, rubber dingy rides, loop slides, tube slides, diving boards and so much more. When it came to lunch there were two food places; one that offered burgers, chips, pizza and such like and one that served more traditional Turkish food such as kofte.

We also went on a boat trip which was sensational. If you get the opportunity to do a boat trip take my advice and DO IT! You won't be disappointed. I cannot stress how much it's worth every penny, how amazing, how inspiring or how breathtaking they are. Even with your children on board! There were moments where the boat was silent, with people - adults and children - looking out over the edge in awe of the natural beauty we were surrounded by.

Again the cost of this was excellent at around £10 a person, including lunch & a soft drink. We had chicken burgers, pasta and salad. It was lovely but I would recommended taking snacks and water with you though as you're out all day.

We shared the boat with other people meaning there was about 20 of us on board. We would have preferred a smaller boat with just us on it but we were happy with this. There were much bigger boats, with many more people on it. Personally I wouldn't I feel relaxed on a huge boat with my children on board too as there are too many people for you to be able to properly keep and eye on them.

The boat stopped at 3 different beaches and we were able to get off for a swim. My children got in for dip too. It wasn't as warm as I would have hoped or as warm as I have experienced before but still delightful nevertheless.



Whilst making our way back we were lucky enough to see dolphins!

They were leaping right out of the water and playing in the wake of the boat. It was truly breathtaking being able to witness them playing in their natural environment. The emotional being I am even shed a tear at this point - it was incredible sharing this with my kids.

So, whilst the media can be off putting don't let it blur your vision of what Turkey is really like.

Whether you choose a tourist location or 'real turkey' I'm confident you won't be disappointed.

Mud, Water and Picnic’s. My Mottisfont Review!

Mottisfont is a fantastic National Trust location for you and your kids, I definitely rate it for a family day out. The staff were friendly, polite, helpful and spoke with a smile on their face. Parking is free and whilst I have an annual membership, meaning I do not have to pay to get in, entry fees seem reasonable in my opinion, for how large the estate is and what is on offer, particularly for the children. There are stunning streams that run through the grounds and beautiful bridges to cross them; the main lawn at the front of the house is extremely well maintained, with no ball games being allowed making it the perfect spot to put your picnic blanket.

Our picnic blanket was much like these...

The Manor itself is remarkable – we did walk round it but with young children in tow and being the only adult with them, I wasn’t able to take in too much of its beauty.

Being an inner city family all this open space is a true joy!

 

Pushchairs are permitted around the grounds at Mottisfont but not in the house due to space restrictions. There is a place where you can leave the pushchairs and lock them to the railings, taking the key with you whilst you walk around the house. I took a stroller similar to the one seen here...

I only take a stroller as a 'just in case' precaution should my youngest decide her legs have given up and actually, it was perfectly fine around the grounds. The paths were very lightly gravelled with tiny stones so the pushing the stroller with its tiny wheels wasn't a struggle like I had imagined it would be. However, it goes without saying that if you have a pushchair such as an Out 'n' about that has wheels that are designed for rougher terrain, you will find it easier to get around.

I used to have an Out 'n' About pushchair until my youngest started walking and I have to say, with my hand on my heart, the Out 'n' About was the best pushchair I have ever owned (and I've owned a few what with four kids)!

The first thing I have too look for after a car journey is the toilets...not for me thank you but for my toddler who isn't long out of nappies. The toilets are to your right as soon you as go through the gates as well as being dotted around the grounds as well. Perfect for us as when a toddler has to go, well, they have to go! 

A game of pooh sticks anyone?
Stunningly clean streams.
Not sure what the kids are looking at here but they loved it!

For the ‘grown-ups’ there are art exhibitions displayed in the house, Rose gardens to walk around and you are able to take your dog, as long as it is kept on a short lead. As we were there having a family day out with my focus on the children upon arrival we set out to find the fun stuff.

 

Sibling hill race!

 

We played pooh sticks from the first bridge we came to and we rolled down the hills, enabling us to tick things off our ’50 things to do before you’re 11 and ¾’ list...an app for your phone or tablet, I’ll elaborate in a mo!

Pump Pool and Paddle
Slim pumping the pump while his siblings watch him work...sounds about right!

For children there are two main fantastic activities, the Climbing Bog and the Pump, Pool and Paddle area. The Climbing Bog is a muddy area with various climbing frames, balance beams and huge stepping stones that have been crafted from old trees. We were here for ages. The kids absolutely loved it. The Pump, Pool and Paddle area is where the children are free to play in the water. The streams are kept perfectly clean therefore visitors are asked to keep the playing in the water to this specific area. They can pump the water up from the stream and watch it run back down to the pool where it drains back to the stream. Children are able to use levers to stop the water running and allow it to collect then to let it all go again. I highly recommend taking spare clothes and a towel. Both my girls fell over in the water leaving us to find a sunny spot to dry off in!

 

On our way to these activities we followed the path and found a secret area where you could stop to take a pew. It was magical, like something from Harry Potter. There was a tiny gap in the bushes and you were unable to see what was beyond it, so as my children disappeared through I hurried behind them. We found a quaint little seating area, it was just big enough for the 5 of us – we could have gone back to this spot to have our picnic, it was a lovely little sun trap, but it was too hot I had to find the kids some shade to sit in.

After all the fun and frolics we went off in search for the perfect picnic spot. It wasn’t hard too find. There was a massive tree on the front lawn, where many a family had already laid out their picnic, so I placed the picnic blanket half in the shade made from the tree, and half in the sun. Those of us that were wet from the Pump, Pool and Paddle were able to dry off and the others could get out of the sun. We dried very quickly and were incredibly warm so we soon shimmied into the shade as well.

I try to do these visits without spending a penny (tight arse I know) but our bottle of water went within minutes of us being there. This was partly due to having to pour half of it over Daisy’s leg after she put her foot in the muddy bog when we were climbing (she had jelly shoes on, it wasn’t pretty)! So we ventured into the shop to buy a drink each. There was a good selection of food and drink and again very reasonably priced. I didn’t go into the seating area indoors as there was a lot of us and the indoor eating area isn’t huge – I didn’t want to take over – having already had our food I didn’t purchase any more or use the outside seating area but this was packed with people, always a good sign.

As the day went on the kids were getting tired, we had done the house, the Climbing Bog, Pump Pool and Paddle, had our picnic so it was almost time to go. I didn’t fancy dragging them round the Rose garden keeping on at them to behave after a long, fun filled, hot day so we went in search for a field where they were allowed to play ball. We took our phlat ball with us to play with. It was new toy the children had not long been given and as its so light it is very easy to transport so that was the must have toy that we took. The children had a good run around and let of the last of their steam before I decided we should make tracks.

We found the spot where ball games are allowed. YAY!

We were at Mottisfont all day; well 10:30 ish until 4pm and we definitely didn’t see all that was on offer. As I say I was there for the children so focussed on keeping them entertained and I did so with no issues whatsoever. There is plenty to keep them busy. I whole heartedly recommend Mottisfont for a fun family day out.

Now, I haven’t forgotten, I mentioned the app for your phone or tablet – 50 things to do before you’re 11 and ¾ …

It is an app by the National Trust with the most amazing list of outdoorsy activities. You set up an account and it gives you a list and you just tick them off when you’re done. Definitely worth getting, it’s great to open up when the kids start getting bored .

Where do you love to go when your after a fun family day out? Have been to Mottisfont or any other National Trust attraction? I'd love to hear from you, please comment below...

Thank you for reading an thanks for using any of the links above, if you did. If you do we earn a few pennies which all help to keep this blog free at no extra cost to you. The products I have recommended are products I have either used myself or would be happy to purchase for myself.

The English Countryside & Bluebell Woods

We found ourselves with nothing to do on a bank holiday Monday afternoon, E was out with his friend and would be gone all day but the rest of us were bored and as it was a beautiful sunny day we decided to had to get out the house, so we set off in search for Bluebells. Not just a few that spring up here and there, we wanted to see them in all their glory. To the Bluebell Woods it was. 

The children hadn't witnessed Bluebells is their masses before and it had been years since we, mum & dad, had seen the beauty of a bluebell blanket on the forest floor.

What happened next I was not prepared for…

I was left feeling like I'd dusted the cobwebs from my mind. I felt refreshed and happy.

So we arrived at Hinton Ampner, an estate previously owned by Ralph Dutton and now exquisitely looked after by the National Trust, where we knew we would find what we were looking for. 

Upon arrival we opted to become members of the National Trust – for a mere £5 odd a month the children and I can visit any National Trust location throughout the year with the added benefit of free parking. We chose a one-parent family ticket as it is me who spends more time with the children due to the hubsters work commitments. However, that aside we were advised that if the Mr comes with us more than we thought he would we can just simply upgrade our membership; still only costing around £9 a month!

So now I have the option to do and experience more with the children during the school holidays without worrying about cost - a no brainer; especially with four munchkins in tow.

Hinton Ampner

Membership organised we made our way to the house. Well, the huge country manor. It was stunning and grand; just as we expected.

On entry to the property the children were handed laminated booklets in which every page had an item they were to search for in the house.

This allowed us grown-ups to read the guide we had been handed and a pay closer attention to the house.

The booklets, which were laid out in the order that you came across the rooms to keep the people traffic going in one direction, were a lovely & thoughtful touch. They kept the children well entertained in what could have been quite a boring experience for them. It also encouraged them to actually take notice of their surroundings and the beauty the house had to offer.

The grounds which this country manor is set in, at a quick glance had just as much going for them as the house did but didn’t stop to fully appreciate its glory as we had already decided we were going to follow the Dutton Estate Walk.

And this is where the magic happened.

Not even five minutes into our walk I had rediscovered the English countryside and it was breath-taking. The views were remarkable.

I was transported back to many a time in my childhood, where I had been on country and forest walks with my Dad. I have fond memories of picking dandelions and blowing away their fluffy heads; I would make out that the amount of puffs it took to fully blow it away would determine what time it was…I also remember getting stuck in the mud once, I got out just fine but my shoe was left behind. Dad had to rescue it for me!

Our children were having fun running, playing, jumping in puddles and so on but I had to get them to stop. 

They had to discover this properly, to capture it and fully take it in... We were at the top of a hill, with views out for miles. The rape seed fields were an eye-catchingly bright shade of yellow where the sunlight spectacularly enhanced the its colour. The rolling clouds were atmospheric, going from a dark grey colour over head to fluffy white in the distance and the only noise was that of birds tweeting, trees and bushes rustling and the wind occasionally whirling past your ear and rushing through your hair. 

Rolling clouds and stunning yellow fields; breath-taking!
After a few moments admiring what was right on our doorstep, yet passed by every-day without a second thought, we carried on along the trail, with Slim's help…

He did his own bit of orienteering…with the wrong map…which he held upside down, but nevertheless he gave it a good go!

At time it was hilly which was a struggle, especially with a bog standard, city stick buggy in tow.  

And then, a small bit of history inevitably repeated itself; Slim got stuck in the mud! He had found tractor tracks with a big puddle in the middle of it. He was so excited he shot over but before he stood in the puddle his little foot squelched in the mud, he stepped down his other foot and the same happened again! He was stuck…much like his mummy some 20 something years ago.

He didn’t lose his wellies like I lost my shoe but it did take almost all my strength to yank him out from the huge suction cup that be the mud, while making sure I don’t get stuck myself.

hmm, what happened here?

There was the occasional moan and groan coming from Noo's about how far we were walking but there were tractor tracks, horse shoe prints, fields of sheep and plenty more nature around to keep us entertained. There was even a gigantic tree that looked like it had fallen over - except  it hadn't snapped, the massive roots had pulled out the ground. When they kids asked what had happened the best I could come up with was to say that the wind did it...bloody big gust of wind that must have been!!

 

 

 

 

 

Eventually we came to the bluebell woods and well... I don't think I have the words. The pictures say it all! Simply enchanting!

   

By now there were a few more people around, some walking their dogs, some taking pictures and others just quietly taking it in much like us.

Fairy houses's

The children believe that Bluebells is where fairies live! How romantic is that?!

 

They were mesmerised by what they saw, just as Sparks and I were…"I can see the whole forest floor is covered in bluebells mummy", “look at all these fairy homes” – this is stuff tears are made of.

 

Finally after a run down a steep hill, you know the type, where you watch your littluns' legs run away with themselves leaving them unable to slow down or stop so you run to help and find yourself in the same situation, we were back at the fields full of sheep and lambs where we had started. 

4 miles and 2.5 hours later we felt refreshed, invigorated and happy. Smiles were beaming. 

The children slept well in the car on the way home!!

The fresh air did them some good.

Did us all some good.

You see on the whole, us Brits' tend to love a good holiday abroad to swap our predictably unpredictable weather for more predictable extremes, such as bright white beaches, hot climates or on the contrary blankets of thick fluffy snow in colder climates; in search for experiences of different cultures, iconic landmarks, the northern lights and so on; and don't get me wrong I DO love a holiday abroad for all those reasons and more but in doing this we often miss what is right here in front of us.

The beauty of our own land, culture and all things that make us who we are goes almost unnoticed, taken for granted, unappreciated.

Again all of which I am guilty of.

But what we experienced, my husband, children and I, was truly special and we created some amazing lasting memories right here on our doorstep.

I can't wait for our next visit to a different National Trust location to see what other hidden treasures we can find here at home.

Want to reply or share your similar experiences? I’d love to hear from you 🙂